5 Things That Are the Same in the “Real World”

What can I say? I love living in my fantasy world, which includes copious amounts of books, a large amount of blogging, and tons of tea.

But when I do come up from air and onto “the Facebook,” the number one complaint I hear from my peers is that the “real world” is something they are just now experiencing. From what I can discern, to live in the “real world,” you have to pay your own bills, obtain a job, and balance several activities at once. However, from my perspective, there are many things that seem very familiar and similar about the “real world” compared to the life of a college student. Luckily for recent or soon-to-be graduates, you can take some comfort in the fact that your transition won’t be as turbulent into the “real world” as you would have thought upon completing your degree. For instance, adults will still attend events if there is free food. After all, we’re only human.

But let’s take a look at a few things you can (and already) expect from your life as a young person in today’s “real world.”

1. You’re Exhausted. All of the time. 

-I’m not sure if you thought the sleep fairy would finally visit you once you got a full-time job, but I can assure you that she will remain conspicuously absent. If you’re looking for the bags under your eyes to disappear from all those all-nighters you spent writing last-minute papers, you will need to keep, ah… dreaming.

2. You Will Work Every Day on Something…and Not Finish It.

-With homework, you had to stop working on it at some point to eat or sleep. (Or maybe not if you see number 1). But at a 9-5, there is nothing to do but keep chugging along. You’ll finish your work because you have to (deadlines are a part of the “real world,” too), but you’ll be surprised to see how long you can work on something without making much visible progress. The trick is, and always will be, to keep going, even when everyone else has already stopped.

3. You Can Still Have Some Fun.

-Don’t worry, kids. Just because you are paying your own bills doesn’t mean there isn’t room in the budget to let loose once in awhile. Now that you are an adult, that old saying, “it’s 5:00 somewhere” will actually mean something to you. 

4. You Can Still See Your Friends.

-Of course, it was pretty awesome in college or in high school when your friends lived in the same hall or town as you, but you can always see your friends on your totally open and homework-free weekends. What’s more, you can afford to do something besides rent movies and eat ramen. (Not that that wasn’t the best time of your life, either. It’s just better for your heart if you slow down on the MSG.)

5. You Still Eat Poorly.

-Speaking of ramen, I’m usually trying to jam something down my throat at my desk so that I don’t break the flow of creativity. And rarely is the food sliding down my esophagus as healthy as I would like it to be. However, we all feel a certain nostalgia (and sense of pride) when we mix a few ingredients that wouldn’t normally go together to make a whole new dish. Who could forget my mac and cheese concoction, complete with avocado and pesto? Duh! Yum! Let’s call it resourcefulness instead of what it really is: laziness.

And so, I’m a little skeptical when people talk to me about the difficulties of the “real world.” I say, if you can get a few things done, see a friend every couple of weeks, and eat something for dinner that hasn’t been microwaved, then you can call yourself an adult. If not, well, we’re all in the same lifeboat. You know, women and children first.

(Writer’s) Blocked

As I’ve mentioned before, everyone has their way of interpreting/interacting/dealing/making sense of/ the world. When painters try to make sense of their world, we get impressionist art. When musicians try to escape themselves, we get blues (oddly, a collaboration in suffering.) But when poets try to interact with their reality, society, more often than not, receives really bad metaphors. Like these: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/high-school-analogies-20-_n_1332745.html

However, as bad as these analogies are, they represent a solid attempt. They exist, and therefore, can be edited into something great. They are proof that these students tried to make sense of their world and won. They are the first step.

And therein lies the problem with writer’s block: it is an unaffordable luxury. It would be nice to think that every time we didn’t know what to say or write or do, we simply wouldn’t have to say or write or do anything at all. If we could just button our lip until the moment passed us, or keep staring at our phones until the person we don’t want to talk to passes, then maybe we wouldn’t have to think about anything for the rest of our lives.

Except, those moments and people keep coming. And at some point, you are going to have to embrace the world. Interpret/interact/deal/and make sense of it, too. And trust me, the world doesn’t play nice with people who consistently say, “I forgot my homework.”

Dealing with writer’s block is as easy as admitting to yourself that it doesn’t exist. It is as easy as saying that I choose to stop suffering from it. (Which, of course, is like saying that it is exactly that easy and exactly that hard. Since you are relying on yourself, you determine the speed with which you are able to erase writer’s block from your life. This could take minutes, hours, or a lifetime. Results, however, will not vary. You will be free of it as soon as you want to be free.) It’s just about deciding not to accept it.

Oh, and in case you were thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t “write,” I use “writer’s block” in a more general sense to mean a drought in creativity or otherwise lack of liveliness and enthusiasm that one possesses to reach certain achievements and goals. So, this means you are suffering from writer’s block any time you are stuck in a situation you don’t want to be in but are unable to get yourself out of.

And here’s the cheesy metaphor part of this: you are the author and the hero and the villain of your own story. If you need to write yourself out of a particularly painted corner, then you can do it. It’s just a matter of not accepting writer’s block for what it is (a temporary obstacle, a self-imposed limitation) and allowing yourself to overcome it. Write your life’s story in permanent ink, believing that you can truly make no mistakes and you won’t.


To All The Teachers In My Life (And In The World)

It’s September 1st.

It’s that time again. You’ve double-checked your supplies, your outfit, your class schedule. You take deep breaths, but you still feel some anxiety pressing in that keeps sleep far behind a high fence that you can’t seem to reach.

And I’m not even talking about how your students are feeling. This is you. The elementary, high school, even college teachers/professors who must once again return to the classroom for another year. This is you.

But what I am about to say is for you.

I loved school. It was the only thing that I was truly good at. I liked obediently reading and working on homework assignments. I liked the relationships I forged with teachers who saw that I truly liked to learn. I loved filling my head with new things and applying them to new scenarios.

So, thank you, teachers/professors. Thank you for spending a little more time each night creating your lesson plans and perfecting them. Thank you for getting up early to be in the classroom before homeroom. Thank you for pushing back and caring when you did not think that you could give another drop of yourself. Thank you for going beyond the roles of teacher/professor and delving into the realms of friend, parent, disciplinarian, role model, but most of all, supporter of dreams. No one asks you to do what you do or to make it stand up to your personal standards. Worst of all, you are rarely thanked besides a week where you can get a few dollars off what you need to buy for your classroom.

And truly, my thanks cannot be enough. But I hope you keep going. In the face of angry parents. In the face of misunderstood students. In the face of adversity.


I hope you remember that you are appreciated and loved. Have a great year. You’re going to be terrific.